The machinery of the mind
Introduction by A. G. TANSLEY.
I am very glad to have the opportunity of commending this little volume to those without any previous knowledge who desire to gain a clear idea of the way in which modern psychology regards the human mind. For every time the words " psychology " and " psychological " were used in the newspapers ten years ago, they must be used fifty times today; and though very often some other word would do just as well, or a good deal better, this sudden vogue has real meaning.
The public has become aware of the existence of psychology: people are beginning to realise that the human mind, the instrument by which we know and think and feel and strive, must itself be studied for its own sake if we are to gain a deeper understanding and greater control of human life.
A distinct reaction from the rather narrow materialism of the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, an increased realisation of immaterial, " spiritual," values, has helped towards giving the mind its rightful place in human interest.
On the one hand, modern academic psychology has for many years now been gradually emancipating itself from the chaotic subjectivities of competing philosophies, and develop- ing on really scientific lines, with the aid of accurate observation, comparison and experiment. Its genuinely and increasingly useful applications to education and to the industry are evidence of that.
On the other hand, the remarkable results of psychoanalysis have been made widely known, though often with that misleading one-sided emphasis which seems fated to attend the popularisation of any branch of scientific enquiry.
And these results have been found not only interesting but ex- citing — to some morbidly exciting — because they appeal to instincts and emotions that our civilisation represses and often perverts.
Psychoanalysis has indeed become a fashionable craze, and as such has doubtless done a certain amount of harm and has met with a good deal of opprobrium from the serious-minded. But psychoanalysis has come to stay, because, however much it may be misused by the ignorant, the unbalanced and the half-educated, it is both a sound technique of research and a sound therapeutic method.
And it certainly has a most important contribution to make to the psychology of the future. This little book, which can be read through in a sitting, succeeds in the difficult task of presenting the rudiments of the modern view of the mind in an easy, lucid and attractive form.
Though I may not agree with every sentence she has written, Miss Firth's development of the subject, and of its very intimate connexion with human hfe and human troubles, seems to me not only substantially sound and accurate but essentially sane and well balanced.
Her explanation of the different levels of the mind and of the " censors " by the metaphor of the tank and the sieves is particularly ingenious and helpful. The book will certainly succeed, to use the author's words, in " planting certain fundamental concepts in untrained minds so that they may serve as a basis for future studies."
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